Knowing the Narcissist : Outside Looking In
You think about me every day. You wait for those teasing and tempting text messages which come through repeatedly during the day and then dry up around 6pm when you know that I am home with her. Once in a while there might be a sudden text at 9pm telling you that she has popped in the bath and that I love you, I miss you and I hate being apart from you. The text also warns you against replying and therefore all you are able to do is touch the glowing screen and try to feel the sentiment behind these electronic messages of desire.
How you cherish that period around 5-30 pm when every day we speak on the ‘phone, just you and I. I am driving home from the office and I use the half an hour or so to regale you with my compliments and to issue those promises that perhaps one day I will be driving home to you.
Whatever you are doing you always ensure that you are available and your ‘phone line is free in order to engage in this call. You now arrange social engagements to take place later or you remain at your workplace, ensconced in the office, appearing to be engaged in a business call, save that you smile far too much for something that is work-related.
That half an hour of heaven when we talk as if we were properly together, making plans, discussing the things we like and dislike, planning the next time we can snatch some time to make love without being detected or laughing about what was discussed when we met for lunch.
You manage to arrange to have lunch with me at least once a week. We deliberately choose a place that neither is likely to be recognised in and we place ourselves around the corner and out of sight. Hands held beneath the table and then removed when the waiter nears us, just in case. Stolen kisses, lingering looks and promises, oh so many promises of the wonderful world that awaits us once I manage to free myself of the chains of my marriage.
You listen carefully and attentively, showing the empathy for which you were chosen as I make oblique references to my miserable home life. Each time you gently press for more information to enable you to understand what it is that I have to endure. What it is that I have to put up with and what it is that has driven me into your arms. I try not to say too much at first. I do not want our oh too brief times together to be spoiled by my tale of woe, but your sympathetic ear proves irresistible and I allow you to learn of the injustices that I suffer on a daily basis.
“We just do not get on any longer.”
“She lost interest in me sexually three years ago. I am amazed I have lasted this long.”
“Nothing I seem to do is good enough. No matter how hard I try, she always finds something to criticise.”
You listen and nod. I know you are desperate to weigh in and slide a knife between me and her and cut our bonds, but the decency that you are imbued with prevents you from doing so. You even suggest reasons why this state of affairs is as it is. You are kind, generous and understanding.
You thrill to my sudden calls out of the blue. You always answer after one ring, sometimes even less, thus denoting that your ‘phone is kept next to you at all times. Your voice always tells me how delighted you are to hear from me. When we meet your eyes, your kiss, your hugs and your spoken enthusiasm cause me to soar as I witness your devotion and desire.
You experience a surge of excitement when you are disturbed by a chime in the middle of the night and see that I have managed to issue another text to you.
I cannot get you out of my head and had to let you know. Don’t reply, I am in bed with her.
The delight that you experience at hearing from me when you expected not to is tempered by the knowledge that I am with her and not you.
The weekends are hardest as you often tell me. I can tell you want to say more but I know you are fearful of pushing me away by being too demanding. I text you when I can and even managed to call you, speaking in hushed tones from a toilet cubicle or a changing room in a department store, stifling my laugh that I have pretended to try on some clothes just so I can call you.
I keep you hooked though. I know how much you want me. I know you love me and I know you want me to be loved, to take me away from the misery of my marriage. I promise you that one day we will be together. Now is not the time, it isn’t quite right at the moment, there’s a family event coming up and it wouldn’t be sensible to drop such a bombshell with that on the horizon, there is a family holiday she booked it and I didn’t know until now but what can I do? I will have to go. I keep the promises coming and the excuses flowing and still you hang on.
I know you wonder why I keep my ‘phone close to me. You haven’t said anything yet but I am not stupid. I can see the suspicion in your eyes when I wake and immediately check my mobile.
“I am waiting for an important e-mail that may have come in from the States overnight,” I explain and issue a disarming smile. You nod. You seem to accept the explanation.
You have complained how you are unable to ever get me on my ‘phone when you ring when I am on my way home. How many times have you left messages asking me to pick up some milk or to collect one of our children from swimming or football only for me to pick the message up too late?
“I need to be available for my clients. They don’t know I am driving home nor do they care; they need to speak to me. After all, if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have this would we?” I explain pleasantly sweeping an expansive arm at the large house and expensive furnishings all around us. You nod in acceptance. You understand my work is important. I tell you often enough that it is.
“I wish you would meet me for lunch when I come into town,” you say every week or so. I kiss your forehead and tell you that I wish that I had the time to enjoy lunch with the woman I love but it is a sandwich and a bottle of fizzy water at my desk for me. There are targets to hit. You nod in understanding and tell me that I work too hard. I thank you and my mind drifts to what I will eat in that Thai restaurant I will be having lunch in tomorrow.
“I wish they would leave you alone,” you sigh when I turn away from you in bed after having made love to you. Your hand lingers on my back, wanting to maintain the closeness and the connection as I attend to my ‘phone on the night stand and issue a late night text before placing it face down.
“I know but it saves waking up to a problem,” I say before turning back to you and kissing you as we nestle in our marital bed.
I know you cherish our weekends together when the demands of the working week intrude less on our domestic life. I can sense you looking at me as I sit, phone in hand, a smile of contentment playing across those lips but nowhere near as wide as the smile inside of me as I fire off a tempting and teasing message.
“Just seeing if Dan is available for squash next week. Tuesday night, so I will be back late,” I say across the room by way of explanation, opening up a gap in the week for someone other than you. You smile and nod and return to your book.
“I love you,” I say suddenly and you look up, the devotion and desire burning in your eyes and it seems so familiar almost making me say something, but the thought passes and I wallow in the admiration and love that you send towards me. You have never ceased to do that.
You do not know about her.
She thinks she knows all about you.
Neither of you really know what I am.